Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Using Gamer Culture Against the Gamer

My name is Mike.  I've been playing 40k for about 4 years, though less so for the last 2.  I remember the hay days of 6-man las/plas of 4th edition and remember fondly the advent of mech in 5th.  However, I'm here to give you some guidance that can greatly increase your likelihood of winning.  It may not make you super popular, but hey! we play 40k! none of us are popular!* Best part. Cheese free.

One thing gamers tend to neglect is psychology.  We are good at psychology on the small scale, terrifying our opponents from charging into an objective, or making them think twice about whatever action.  That is well and good, but there is a meta-psychology most gamers are not aware of, and that is the psychology of the local game store.

Gamers have commonly held beliefs and habits, like so many wild animals.  This article will hopefully show you how to take advantage of gamer culture and use it like a device of destruction (cue heavy metal music).

At least when it comes to games.  Hell, even though I don't believe in the "dice gods" you better believe I will still switch d20's mid DnD session if I feel one going cold on me.  It's just habit.  Here are some fun things that take advantage of this.

-Everything is either blessed or cursed to a gamer.  I almost had a favorite pipe of mine thrown out of tournament use, because I would make above average roll sets. Of course I was also pointing to the dice with my "damned pipe."  While this seems foolish (and maybe you think they wanted to throw my pipe out for me being a jackass) this was not the case.  You can ask Jalil-my opponent had a very real fear of my pipe. As such, he would think twice before any risky action due to my "good rolling, damn pipe."

-Next is to wreck one of their units they constantly brag about (more on this later), with a hard counter (if you have one handy, which you should).  When this happens, claim they must be cursed.  This one can take awhile to sink in properly.  Eventually your opponents will take other units even though that was the one you were afraid of.

-Use this to your advantage.  Look at your own statistics, try not to get sucked into the superstition, but if a unit is fizzling on offense, repurpose it.  Make them chase it.

2. Gamers are notorious for overestimating and underestimating things.
Yeah, I know you laughed when your friend bought Necrons.

-Rhinos are invisible after you launch an attack with their cargo.  They might as well be, opponents typically "save them for last." Make them regret it, tank shock everything.  I once removed Lysander and a full squad of HB devastators by tank shocking them over and over. Also ram them.  Make them rue the day they let this box on treads break into their lines.

-Death stars. What are they good for?  Distractions, distractions and killing things.  Make them chase the Death star or put it on a soft flank, even though there are less targets, there are even less reasons to worry, and it may also cause them to shift their forces. Outflanking Death stars will scare the crap out of an opponent who sees them on the side of the table...waiting...menacingly.

-If something "works" in a gamers mind, it will always work.  Exploit this.  Look at their strategy, what do they always do?  Why is it flawed?  I had an IG player who parked his tanks in the back giving fire support to his troops.  I outflanked a bunch of angry assault terminators with a little known man named Ko'Khan in a land raider and multi-charged the tank (hammers auto-glances from FC).  This happened on several occasions.  He never moved his tanks because everyone else let him get away with it.

-3 way games.  Stay out of that mess if possible.  I took second in a tournament Jalil mentioned in his first post because, instead of getting gutsy, I made sure that I held onto just more than enough points to clinch second.  Had I gone to first, I would have had to separate my forces against Black Templars and Imperial Guard on either side of me.

-Speaking of Black Templars.  Look at old codexes for rules that didn't transfer correctly to 5th Ed, (preferred enemy going from hitting on a +3 to being a reroll in cc).  Also they get 2x special weapons per Terminator Squad and can buy tank hunters (or FC).  Even before the update, I was wrecking with these guys.  However, I had one advantage.   We had a Black Templar player.  After the tournament I described above, he swore them off, saying they couldn't work in Fifth Ed. He switched to IG. I played Black Templars the next tournament I played in. People laughed.  Final placing: first was Dark Angels (veteran), then New IG (not the player mentioned), then me.  Laugh at codex creep while you exploit codices getting better because of how rules work.

3.Many gamers are arrogant.
I couldn't tell you why this is.  Something about little plastic army men make people badasses overnight.  However, use this to your advantage yet again.

-Listen to your friends brag about what unit rules, or this strategy or that strategy.  Keep it in mind.  Think about how you can wreck their collective day.  Are you seeing a lot of local push towards mech? horde?  Make your list around the local meta.  Net-lists?  Don't get me started, my Black Templars have a handy winning record (ARROGANCE)  against "best of marines." Net-lists just give you more time to prepare, with more information available.

-Gamers are willing to adopt strategies without knowing how they work.  Learn how they work.  Why does redundancy work?  Because every time you kill a unit, another one replaces it?  Or is it because of concentrated strengths.  Armies can typically be broken down into Back-Field, Up-Field and Hybrid (not to be confused with shooty, choppy and both).  It is important to be able to take a unit out of it's comfort zone (why assault works on guard or shooting works on wyches).

-This arrogance leads to 2 behaviors typically.  Bragging and pouting.  If a rival player brags about decimating your terminators on a lucky go, let him have his day.  Don't react.  Better yet, laugh and make a joke about yourself.  Watch his face, not letting him have power over you will hurt his confidence.  Soon he will be doing whatever he can to break your stride, including making risky (costly) mistakes.  Next is pouting, players who take themselves too seriously pout after alpha strikes or losing their ultimate unit instead of trying to salvage the game.  The best thing you can do is encourage them.  Tell them they still have got a shot, or that "I just got lucky." With luck this will make them pout further and cloud their judgement.  (Another way to use this in your advantage is after you have clearly lost an objective game by fighting power, avoid fighting and race to contest objectives at game end, it will take luck, but can scrape out victories.)

-When everyone is bragging about what they are taking to next tournament, and they ask you, be vague as possible.  Out and out lying is something I won't agree with, but when people asked me about my BT list, I just responded with "Templars." I'm sure they had visions of crusader squads running around and hitting things with their BP/CCW.  Not massed Terminator tank hunting AC's (Though I did end up with a huge crusader squad, as the league escalated and I didn't have the models).

4.Final Advice
Don't go native. The hard part is you are among friends, and their bad habits quickly become yours.  I've fallen into all the above categories multiple times, and it's only when I pull myself out and start playing my game that I get results.  Resist the urge to brag.  Keep your head cool.  Resist temptation.

Mike, out.

*Did that hurt your feelings or did you get defensive?  Read the article war-gamer. I am here to help.